Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

Petrol smugglers arrested in high-speed boat chase off UAE coast, court hears

A patrol vessel fired warning shots after the smugglers gave chase

A coast guard boat patrols the waters of the Ras Al Khor nature reserve in April 2012. Christopher Pike / The National
A coast guard boat patrols the waters of the Ras Al Khor nature reserve in April 2012. Christopher Pike / The National

A UAE patrol vessel shot at a boat driven by a group of men accused of smuggling petrol in Dubai's waters and attempting to evade arrest, the emirate's criminal court heard on Thursday.

On July 15, the patrol boat was tipped off about nine men who were illegally distributing diesel to other vessels at sea and set off to arrest them.

“When we drew closer, the boat, which was pumping diesel to another vessel, pulled the pipes and drove away,” an Emirati officer told the court.

The men operating the boat ignored messages and signals to stop and attempted to flee and drove at full speed towards Abu Musa, an island 60km off the coast of the UAE.

“Our attempts to stop them including using loudspeakers failed so we fired two warning shots,” said the officer.

The smugglers ignored the warnings and continued to run away, prompting the patrol vessel to take aim and fire at the boat's engine.

“The boat stopped and, when approaching it, it became clear that the shot had hit a sailor,” the officer said.

An investigation later showed that the bullet deflected off the boat and hit one of the men, who has taken to hospital.

Officers arrested five Iranian citizens and four Indian men, aged between 18 and 43, on board the boat.

They were charged with illegally transporting and supplying flammable materials.

Four of them were also charged with entering the country illegally.

At Dubai Criminal Court on Thursday, all nine men denied the charges.

Their next hearing is scheduled for on September 21.

Updated: September 10, 2020 04:10 PM

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